Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.
Instead of forking over a small fortune every month for rent, what if you could get someone to pay you to live in their house?
Housesitting is a gig that could provide you with weeks or even months of free housing. In some cases, the free housing is the “pay” you receive (think of it as the money you are not paying toward rent).
But, there are also paying housesitting gigs, and there are numerous websites specifically created to match available housesitters with housesitting jobs both within the U.S. and internationally.
Often, housesitting jobs include more than just sitting around in someone else’s house. Most often, additional duties include caring for pets and plants, although they can include maintenance and cleaning, too.
Before you start packing your bags, here’s what you need to know about housesitting jobs.
How to Become a Housesitter
You know the old saying: You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.
While it is possible to get a first-time housesitting job, the competition for such positions is fierce. There are a lot of people who like the idea of living for free in someone else’s home. So, it would behoove you to get some experience.
Consider your social network. Let friends, family and coworkers know you are thinking about becoming a housesittter, and ask them to give you an opportunity to prove yourself, along with a recommendation that will help you get your next position.
Since you are just starting out, you are not likely to be offered money for a housesitting job right away, but this is a good opportunity to get referrals and experience.
If no one you know speaks up, you can get a first-time job on a housesitter website (we’ll give you some options later), but you had best be ready to answer key questions and provide significant skills to get selected.
Can I Get Paid to Be a Housesitter?
You are already getting paid in kind. You have free housing. But, some jobs are extensive enough in terms of care that you will be offered a stipend.
It is also possible to be rewarded for doing a good job with a tip at the end of the stay.
How Much Money Can You Make With Housesitting Jobs?
The Economic Research Institute says the average housesitter salary in paid gigs is $16 an hour, although care.com says most paid rates are negotiated between homeowner and housesitter, and can be up to $100 a day or more.
Homeowners looking for more than just a human watchdog are likely to offer a salary for the period they will be gone from home.
Can You Have Another Job When You’re a Housesitter?
As a housesitter, you are effectively replacing the homeowner as a presence in the home.
The homeowner likely has a job, or some other responsibility, that takes them away from the home from time to time. You can, too.
It might work best if you have a part-time job to ensure your availability. However, circumstances might allow you to have a full-time job and housesit as well.
How to Find Housesitting Jobs
If you’re going to make the leap to housesitting on a regular basis, you’ll likely need to rely on more than word of mouth. There are numerous websites offering housesitting jobs, although you can also go it alone.
Most of the sites require a subscription, since you are likely going to need to move from job to job over time and will reuse the site. Many also require a background check.
Here are some options to consider when looking for housesitting jobs.
You may be able to get a housesitting job without paying for a website subscription, but it will require substantially more work on your part, including advertising, setting up a payment method and vetting clients.
If you do go the solo route, consider starting on sites where homeowners may use to seek out someone who is local, like Craigslist and Nextdoor.
Use Housesitting Subscription Sites
The value of subscription services is that homeowners and pet owners are on these sites actively seeking someone to care for their home or loved one. Housesitters can find job offerings and contact the homeowners who have a listing that works for them.
They can choose between homeowners looking for free housesitting services and those who are willing to pay.
- Housecarers.com ($50 per year) Your profile can include up to 14 photos of yourself, effectively creating a 15-page personal website for your housesitting services. You can preselect areas or types of jobs you are looking for before receiving matching job opportunities.
- House Sitters America ($49 per year) Job seekers can provide their services free or for a fee on this site. You can search for jobs on the site, or create a profile that will attract homeowners to you.
If You Want to Take Your Housesitting Abroad
What if you could use your housesitting gig to see the world?
Other than travel restrictions placed by the country you are visiting, there are no restrictions for being a housesitter in international settings.
But it makes sense to also research the country you’ll be staying in to ensure you can adhere to local customs and restrictions. Some sites to use if you want an international gig:
- Trusted House Sitters (Starts at $189 per year). This is a service that offers worldwide opportunities. Job seekers get to list the dates they need housing and the locations they are willing to travel to. This service promotes its need for pet sitters as well.
- Mind My House ($29 per year) More than one-third of the listings on Mind My House are for the United Kingdom and Europe, while 30% are American listings.
- Luxury House Sitting ($25 per year) This is another worldwide service, with listings in the U.S., Europe, parts of South America, Australia, and a few countries in Africa and Asia. The newest housesitting gigs pop up as you sign into your account. The homes available are usually very luxurious, which means you may be asked to do more than just sit.
- Nomador ($7+ a month). This is a service that promotes house and pet-sitting around the globe, but does not suggest getting paid beyond the obvious savings on accommodations while traveling.
(Note: There are housesitting sites specific to a country like the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico or Australia. Look into them depending on your travel desires.)
What to Include in Your Housesitter Profile
Homeowners are looking for a trustworthy person to take care of their home, possessions and potentially their animal babies. A few of the top traits you should be able to demonstrate in your profile when looking for a housesitting job:
- Reliability. Homeowners are not going to give their house keys to just anyone. They need to know they can count on you to stay in the house, keep it clean, not throw any parties and pay attention to detail. Recommendations from previous housesitting clients or current employers can speak to your reliability. Multiple references and reviews can help you stand out.
- Availability. One of your main jobs as a housesitter is to make sure the home looks occupied to help prevent burglary or vandalism. That means you will be a constant presence on the property. You don’t have to stay there 24/7, but you have to occupy the home the way the homeowner would. Be clear about your availability, including whether housesitting will be your sole job or if you’ll work outside the home.
- Home care skills. Can you unclog a toilet? Adjust a thermostat? Water plants regularly? In some cases, you will be asked to be a temporary caretaker rather than just a body occupying a space.
- Cleanliness. Part of your job may be to keep the house clean. If there isn’t a separate cleaning service, you may need to wash dishes (or use a dishwasher), clean toilets, sweep, vacuum and dust.
- Love of animals. Many homeowners want a housesitter just to take care of their dog, cat, rabbit, fish or bearded dragon. Duties can include taking the animal for a walk, feeding on a regular schedule and cleaning up after them. Photos of you with your own pet (or a friend’s pet) will help in your job profile.
- Specialty skills. Do you have any training to set you apart (and demand a higher rate), such as being certified in pet CPR?
Learn From Every Housesitting Job
Once you get a few housesitting jobs under your belt, you will get an idea of what gigs are available. This may cause you to reconsider, or it may cause you to expand your parameters for housesitting.
There are people who travel all over the world, moving from one housesitting assignment to another. Why shouldn’t it be you?